Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Muharam 22, 1443: Celebrating 'Merdeka' as 'ibadah'

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. 


Surah 114, An-Nas, the second of the two cries for refuge and protection, takes its name from a recurring word which marks the rhythm in the Arabic. In this case protection is sought especially from the evil in a man's own heart in the hearts of other men. An early Meccan revelation 


Revealed at Mecca 

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.  1. Say; I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind,  2. The King of mankind, 3. The God of mankind, 4. From the evil of the sneaking whisperer,  5. Who whispereth in the hearts of mankind, 6. Of the jinn of mankind. 

(The Meaning of the GLORIOUS QUR'AN, The Final Revelation, An Explanaory Translation by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall) 

HOW often have we heard of 'ustazs' (religious teachers) advising us when performing our religious obligations such as saying our 'solat' (prayers) or 'siyam' (fasting) that we should treat these as though they were our last deeds because in this way we would put our maximum effort in doing them.

Other than religious obligations, in doing our routine chores such as a husband wishing goodbye to his beloved wife before going off to work; he and she should consider it their last tender moment because  nobody would know what would happen after that.

'Subhanallah' (Glory be to God) everything is in His hand. Perhaps in the early morning a wife would be in a cheerful mood while sending off her 'fresh and tidy' husband to work, but at the end of the day she may face her hardest and saddest moment if she receives news of her husband being killed in an accident.

If the thought of not having another opportunity to do certain good deeds such as praying, fasting or sending a spouse off to work as mentioned above, then we would have 'the power' and motivation to perform our best in all of our undertakings whether in our relations with Allah SWT such as praying and between human beings such as relations between a husband and wife.

In Islam all our actions are considered 'ibadah' (acts of worship) and would be rewarded by Allah The Greatest; be in small matters such as going to the toilet or of highly looked upon jobs such as administrating departments to governing states or countries. But one important aspect must be looked upon and that is our 'niat' (intention); if our 'niat' is in line with the teaching of Islam then we would be rewarded otherwise, our deeds would be wasted.

Even having sex with one's spouse is considered an 'ibadah' - a Muslim would be rewarded when he/she practices this act, as he/she is rewarded when he/she does any other acts of prescribed types of worship. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) alluded to this concept when he said, which reads as follows: “(A Muslim) would have intercourse with his spouse and would be rewarded for it. The Companions (may Allah be pleased with him) asked: Oh Messenger of Allah! A person would be rewarded while satisfying his sexual need? Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied: Yes. Isn't it that he would be punished had he practiced sex illegally? The same applies if a Muslim practiced lawful intercourse with his spouse. As such, he would be rewarded.” (Ahmad)

Well, if doing 'small things' such as going to the toilet could be an 'ibadah', then what could be said about 'bigger and more important things' such as celebrating one’s country’s independence day or 'Hari Merdeka'. It is also an 'ibadah' if we fulfill the requirements stipulated in Islam.

First of all, what's the definition of 'merdeka'? The 'Kamus Dwibahasa Oxford Fajar' describes it as 'independent'; not dependent on or controlled by another person or thing while 'Kamus Perwira' defines it as 'bebas' or in English – independent/free. 'Kemerdekaan' means 'freedom or independence' and an example given is: "Malaya berjaya mencapai kemerdekaannya pada tahun 1957 - Malaya gained its independence in 1957."

Now, let us look at what renowned Muslims have said about 'merdeka'. At the height of the conquest of Persia, the Muslim general, Sa'ad ibn Waqqas carried out Caliph Umar Al-Khattab's will and sent to Rustum (or Rustam), the Persian great general, a number of his companions lead by Asim ibn Amir to call on him to follow Islam and Allah's path.

The conversation between them and the Persian leader lasted long. Finally they ended their talk by Asim telling him, "Allah has chosen us to turn whom He chooses of His creatures from paganism to monotheism, from the narrowness of life to its freedom, from the ruler's injustice to Islam's fairness. Whoever accepts our offer we will leave him alone and will refrain from hurting him. Whoever fights us, we will fight him until we fulfill Allah's promise."

The points elaborated by Asim to Rustum are looked upon as the meaning of 'merdeka' (freedom). It was regarding 'transforming' people from paganism to monotheism, from the limitations of life to freedom and from a ruler's injustice to the fairness in Islam.

Well, what's an example of Islam’s fairness?  'Aisha narrated this hadith: "Usama approached the Prophet on behalf of a woman (who had committed theft). The Prophet said, 'The people before you were destroyed because they used to inflict the legal punishments on the poor and forgive the rich. By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! If Fatima (the daughter of the Prophet) did that (i.e. stole), I would cut off her hand'." (Sahih Bukhari)

In Islam, each of us is equal in the eyes of Allah SWT. There is no difference between a rich and a poor man. Yes, only 'takwa' (fear of Allah) differentiates people for He says in the Qur'an: "O mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that who has At-Taqwa. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware." - (Surah Al-Hujurat, verse 13)

Before ending this piece, as a Muslim allow me to pen my opinion about 'merdeka'. 'Merdeka' means that we are free to practice all our religious obligations and as Muslims we have the right to implement all of Allah SWT’s commands including hudud law (because it is mentioned in the Qur'an) and preventing ‘mungkar’ (sins).

Having reservations on any of Allah SWT’s commands is a clear violation of our oath, the ‘syahadah’, that we will submit and obey all of Allah SWT’s commands. Some scholars even say having such an attitude will nullify our ‘syahadah’ and is sufficient to make a person ‘kafir’ (a non-believer).

And Allah SWT has given us warning on this matter in Ayah 85 Surah al-Baqarah (...Believe ye in part of the Scripture and disbelive ye in part thereof?...) where Allah SWT warns us not to become like the Children of Israel who disobey some of Allah SWT’s commandments in the Taurah and reject the others.

Well, we are not fully 'merdeka' if we only practice some of what Allah orders us but refrain from the others. 'Insha-Allah (God Willing) we should tirelessly work our way (this is an 'ibadah') untill all His commands are put into practice on Earth! 

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